Leonard Cohen Displays Revised Repertoire In Fort Lauderdale-Southern Florida-Sunrise-BankAtlantic Center1
While all the reviews of the Leonard Cohen Fort Lauderdale concert I’ve read have been laudatory and at least one has examined the performance in some depth (more about that later), only a few comments at LeonardCohenForum from fans who attended the performance and the videos of the actual songs from the concert revealed that several of the songs that have been mainstays of the World Tour for the past 16 months have been recast in new arrangements.
Rather than compose paragraphs of explication that would inevitably flounder in musicological muck, I offer a simple comparison and contrast example of this phenomenon.
Leonard Cohen – Waiting For The Miracle
Fort Lauderdale: Oct 17, 2009
Video from mayormyq
Compare that version with the same song performed by the same musicians just over two months ago in Lisbon.
Leonard Cohen – Waiting For The Miracle
Lisbon Aug 3, 2009
Video from albertnoonan
OK, it’s arguably a tad less dramatic than the shift in content I described in Leonard Cohen World Tour ON ICE – New Marketing Strategy For Florida Shows, but, still, …
Given the undeniable success and popularity of the World Tour and the fact that many of the venues scheduled for the final swing through the USA have never previously been the site of a Cohen concert, it would have been easy to argue that changes were unnecessary and perhaps contraindicated since the new formats could prove less popular than their predecessors.
Besides, shifts in the arrangements of songs would seem to have slight marketing potential. “The Leonard Cohen World Tour, now featuring a new, more complex lyrical formulation of Waiting For The Miracle” just doesn’t strike one as an effective TV commercial in Southern Florida markets.
Finally, there is the matter of logistics. Exactly when, during the hectic concert schedule, were the changes conceived and rehearsed?
My core cynicism notwithstanding, the only likely rationale for these musical rearrangements I can devise is that Leonard Cohen thought they were indicated for artistic purposes and the audience might enjoy them.2
The Concert Review To Read
At least one review, Hello and goodbye: Leonard Cohen’s first-ever Florida concert in Sunrise is likely his last by Sean Piccoli (Palm Beach Post: Oct 19, 2009), went beyond the typical reports that listed the songs played and reprinted the standard Cohen cliches to offer some insight into the concert experience. Excerpts follow but do yourself a favor and read the entire piece at the link (Update: The original source is no longer online; a copy of the article is preserved at LeonardCohenForum):
... circumstances point to Cohen’s first-ever concert in Florida — about 40 years in the making — also being his last. There was an undeniable sense of hello-and-goodbye to the old pop laureate’s performance on Saturday night at BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise. “I don’t know when we’ll pass this way again,” he said early on, “so we’re going to give you everything we’ve got.”
Backed by nine players, all skilled and closely attuned to their frontman, Cohen sang more than two dozen of his emotionally eloquent songs, the centerpiece of every one of them being his unusual voice. Cohen’s dusky baritone is anything but trained, but in concert it helped give his confessional lyrics the weight of experience — good, bad and ambiguous.
Inside the slow, soulful waltz of “Bird on the Wire,” Cohen managed to sound both rueful and philosophical — perched between “I’m sorry” and “Oh, well”– when he sang, “I have torn everyone who reached out for me.” His singing was frank, but not without guile.3
… It [his voice] had a way of authenticating language that could be considered archaic (“If It Be Your Will”) or abstract (“Famous Blue Raincoat”). To create a vocabulary for his spiritual self, his inner life, Cohen has dipped into poetry and scripture, and chosen words that might sound florid and dated in other contexts. Here — and partly because he’s been so good at getting every syllable to fit his voice — the lyricism is solid and durable.
… Cohen was also a pleasure to hear between numbers, and an absolute gentleman who kept finding inventive ways to thank the audience — “for climbing the vertiginous heights to your seats for braving the menacing, psychotic, abrasive qualities of people you don’t know for the warm and welcoming reception.”
… it’s not inconceivable that he would play Florida again. But his worldview, as spelled out in his songs, is about the fleeting nature of things. Whether or not he returns here, his thinking on Saturday seemed to be: Play like it’s your last time, because after that it’s all just memory and hindsight.
Credit Due Department:
All of the outstanding photos of the Fort Lauderdale concert displayed in this post were taken by and used with the gracious permission of hassan.
Note: Originally posted Oct 19, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
- The locations listed, Fort Lauderdale, Southern Florida, Sunrise, BankAtlantic Center, and BankAtlantic, have each been used, usually without reference to the others, by various news sources and blogs to identify the same October 17, 2009 Leonard Cohen concert site. [↩]
- I know. I’m disappointed in me, too. [↩]
- Emphasis mine. I think this is a wonderfully accurate and succinct characterization of Leonard Cohen’s songwriting and singing. [↩]